Jan 11 Here is a look at Mali since a military
coup paved the way for Islamist rebels to take over the
country's mostly desert north:
March 22, 2012 - Soldiers seize power from President Amadou
Toumani Toure as a protest over the government's ineffective
handling of a campaign against northern rebels turns into a
coup. The African Union suspends Mali the next day. Coup leader
Captain Amadou Sanogo says he is ready for talks with rebels but
wants to preserve Mali's territorial integrity.
March 30 - Tuareg separatist insurgents enter the key town
of Kidal in the north after soldiers abandon positions. Sanogo
calls for external help against the rebels, who gradually gain
control over the northern half of Mali.
April 6 - A rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of
Azawad (MNLA), proclaims independence for northern Mali, which
it names Azawad, after announcing an end to fighting.
April 8 - President Toure resigns, paving the way for the
soldiers who ousted him to stick by a deal to restore civilian
rule and hand power to parliamentary speaker Dioncounda Traore.
Traore is sworn in three days later.
April 9 - Members of Mali's Arab community in Timbuktu form
the Azawad National Liberation Front, or FLNA, an armed group to
fill the void left by the army's retreat from the north.
May 26 - The Tuareg-led MNLA and Islamist militant group
Ansar Dine agree to merge and create an independent state in the
north. The Tuaregs ditch the pact a week later.
Dec. 11 - Cheick Modibo Diarra, prime minister since August,
2012, is forced to resign by the military hours after he was
arrested trying to leave for France. Django Cissoko succeeds.
Dec. 20 - The U.N. Security Council unanimously authorises
the deployment of an African-led military force to help defeat
al Qaeda and other Islamist militants in northern Mali. The
international African force is not expected to begin operations
before Sept. 2013.
Jan 4. 2013 - Ansar Dine says it has suspended a ceasefire
agreed with the government the previous month, accusing Bamako
of making a mockery of peace talks by gearing up for war. Ansar
Dine is one of the main armed groups controlling northern Mali.
Jan. 10 - Mali appeals for urgent military aid from France
after Islamists seize the town of Konna in the centre of the
country, about 600 km (375 miles) northeast of the capital
Bamako. The next day France says it is ready to intervene if the